Waiting lists for resales
From: Joani Blank (joaniswansway.com)
Date: Mon, 6 May 2002 06:36:15 -0600 (MDT)
Okay, Liz, you put me up to it. So here's what I know--or maybe it's what I kinda, sorta believe to be true. In the case of a condominium (which is how all but 2 or 3 cohousing communities in the US are structured) a seller cannot be required to sell his/her house to a particular person. There is nothing to prevent the owner residents (members) of the community from signing an agreement saying that they will or will not sell their unit to a particular kind of person, including, I'm guessing, "the next person on the waiting list." But it is pretty important that any such agreement be VOLUNTARY.

In the very early days at Doyle Street--before we even moved in, and still the case when I joined a few months before move-in--I was "required" to sign a participation agreement when I signed the purchase agreement for my house. However, quite shortly thereafter, signing the participation agreement became voluntary, possibly/probably on the advice of our attorney. The language relating to resale was something like, "I agree not to sell or rent/lease my unit to anyone who does not want to live in cohousing."

I believe that an earlier iteration also said something about folks agreeing not to sell or rent to someone unless the the buyer was also willing to sign the participation agreement, but I think that clause has gone away. Subsequently Doyle St. adopted a "policy" that the seller is expected to invite a potential buyer for 3 visits (some combination of common meals, community meetings and work days), so that he/she/they can know what they are getting in to, not so that the community can judge, select or qualify the potential new resident.

So at Doyle Street (and now at Swan's), and at most other cohousing communities in this country, contact information for those who express interest or who ask to get on the waaiting list are placed on a list of people "to be notified in the event of a resale." They are told that this is not a "waiting list" in the sense that they will not get preference over someone who goes on the list next week or next month or year.

As someone else has said here, people's situations change pretty rapidly, and their interest in moving to your community, or their ability to do so may have changed by the time a unit becomes available. Also, the house that becomes available may be too big or too small, too expensive or too inexpensive (sure!) for them. However, it is in the best interest of anyone selling a unit in your community to get in touch with everyone on that list, to let them know that a unit is now for sale in your community, and they will usually be most pleased to have that list to contact, because even if no one on the entire list is interested at the time, they are folks who have probably become somewhat knowledgeable about cohousing, and are likely to think of friends, acquaintances , co-workers, etc. who may well be in the market for just what you have to sell.

At the Amherst conference a few years back, Katie McCamant led a panel on resales and the waiting list issue was raised. Most communities had a policy fairly similar to Doyle Street's. Pioneer Valley, however stood apart from the rest in that they have a system which works approximately this way. (Someone from PV please correct me if I'm wrong). People who express interest are asked to pre qualify for a mortgage and are given an orientation into community life, expectations, etc. Then they go on a waiting list in seniority order for a particular size unit. The next person who wishes to sell must offer the unit to the first person on the list for that size unit, then to the next if # 1 isn't interested and so on down the line to the bottom before offering the unit to someone not on the waiting list.

Also, they do not go in for bidding wars. And the sale price is set at no more than X% (do I remember 6% ?) over the current appraised price. I personally like this system a lot, but I was led to believe by some of the audience responses at the time, that this system might be of questionable legality. On the other side, perhaps if it this policy is clearly voluntary, and someone could choose to go around it, say to sell at any price they could get for the sale, or by selling to a friend instead of the next person on the list, I doubt whether the community would have any legal recourse. (is there a lawyer out there who could help?). Also, lawyer friend, if someone agreed to the policy, could they subsequently bring an action against the HOA for unfairly keeping them from getting the best price they could for their unit, or not "letting them" sell their house to whomever they wanted?

Joani Blank
Swan's Market Cohousing
Oakland, CA

So the deal is this. At 12:01 PM 5/5/02 -0500, you wrote:
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Today's Topics:

   1. Re: Waiting Lists (Chris)
   2. thought needed on zoning problem (Jill Robinson)
   3. Anyone interested in cohousing in Anchorage, Alaska (Hans Ehrbar)
   4. Re: waiting lists (Lynn Nadeau)
   5. Re: Waiting Lists (Mac & Sandy Thomson)


Message: 1
Date: Sat, 4 May 2002 02:26:17 -0700
From: Chris <chris-cohousing [at] randomcamel.net>
To: cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org
Subject: Re: [C-L]_Waiting Lists
Organization: The Inside Foundation
Reply-To: cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org

At some point, Elizabeth Stevenson said:
> If the house goes on the open market, you have to sell to whomever meets
> your price. Best to avoid that and do it internally.

I'm confessing some ignorance here, but I thought that normally someone
selling a house wasn't obligated to sell it to anyone they didn't want to?
that they could just reject an offer. am I misinformed?

(I'm rather far from being able to buy a house, so I'm not thoroughly
educated. :-))


Chris Doherty
chris [at] randomcamel.net

"I think," said Christopher Robin, "that we ought to eat
all our provisions now, so we won't have so much to carry."
               -- A. A. Milne


Message: 2
Date: Sat, 04 May 2002 09:52:37 -0400
From: Jill Robinson <jillrob [at] carolina.net>
To: cohousing-l <cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org>,
        Tad Montgomery <tad [at] shaysnet.com>
Subject: [C-L]_thought needed on zoning problem
Reply-To: cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org

The Greenfield, MA cohousing project was instigated in part to preserve
historic farm from commercial development.  There is a big movement
afoot in the town to rezone this farm from rural residential to
commercial in order to build an office park with some light industry.
Members of the
cohousing group find themselves in the position of arguing why an office

park, which would bring tax revenues to the town, is bad while a
cohousing community, which would drain fiscal resources from the town,
is good.

The argument being used against our proposal is that a 'subdivision' of
residential homes costs a town roughly three times more than it brings
in revenues.  The costs are primarily for schooling the children of the
community, but also include police & fire protection, snow plowing, etc.

Any thoughts or countervailing arguments that cohousers have to support
case would be appreciated.  What we've come up with so far are:
1)   Cohousing communities generally require much less in the way of
police intervention that the average neighborhood.
2)  Cohousing neighborhoods are designed to have a diverse mix of
residents' ages, from single young people through families to elders.
Because of this the number of children in the community is often less
that of an average subdivision.
3)  For cohousing communities here in the Pioneer Valley of Western
Massachusetts, 1/3 to 1/2 of the children attend private schools or are
home schooled.
4)  People who live in cohousing are generally very civic minded.  In
the Pioneer Valley Cohousing Community in Amherst, MA, there are nine
adults presently serving on the elected Town Meeting, out of 36
households. Many others serve on boards of directors or volunteer in

We are giving a public presentation to the Greenfield Town Council on
Tuesday, May 7th.  Please send your comments to Tad Montgomery:
tad [at] shayset.com or at work: (413) 774-7248.


Message: 3
Date: Sat, 4 May 2002 11:03:34 -0600 (MDT)
From: Hans Ehrbar <ehrbar [at] econ.utah.edu>
To: cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org
Subject: [C-L]_Anyone interested in cohousing in Anchorage, Alaska
Reply-To: cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org

Dear friends,

I am a happy member of Wasatch Commons in Salt Lake City,
but since my daughter lives in Anchorage I will have to
spend a fair bit of time in Anchorage in the next few years.
If there is anybody in Anchorage interested in cohousing,
please email me off-list.

Hans G. Ehrbar

Hans G. Ehrbar   http://www.econ.utah.edu/ehrbar   ehrbar [at] econ.utah.edu
Economics Department, University of Utah     (801) 581 7797 (my office)
1645 Campus Center Dr., Rm 308               (801) 581 7481 (econ office)
Salt Lake City    UT 84112-9300              (801) 585 5649 (FAX)


Message: 4
Date: Sat, 4 May 02 11:46:43 -0700
From: Lynn Nadeau <welcome [at] olympus.net>
To: "cohousing L" <cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org>
Subject: [C-L]_Re: waiting lists
Reply-To: cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org

At RoseWind, all of our 24 home sites are owned, and all but a few are
built and occupied.  One can only join via resale, and it's "open
market". We have a strong interest in having pre-educated potential
joiners. Learning enough to make an informed decision to join a
particular community takes time -- visiting, coming to social, work, or
business gatherings, asking questions-- and resales can go very quickly.
So we do our best to respond hospitably and with information to those who
inquire, and to help locals and local realtors have a good impression of
what we are. It takes a lot of time and energy, and requires patience,
while educating a lot of people who never will buy in.

But this can pay off. We had a couple move and sell, and they never
officially put their house on the market, because we had an interested
family already "milling around". The new family had wanted to join, and
couldn't afford the one house that was already for sale.

We don't keep a waiting list, per se. People's situations are so fluid,
when they are looking for housing, in terms of timing and price, that it
would change too often. We do know who is actively interested, and have
endeavored to tell such people first, if something becomes available. And
I have the email addresses of those who have inquired, and can notify
them of a resale.

If you are talking about resales, keep in mind that whatever contract you
might come up with would need to deal with the potential situation that
the reseller is disinterested, or even hostile. We had that once, when an
elderly member died and her estranged family had no interest or trust in
us. They padlocked the house, and months later sold it overnight via a
real estate broker, at an under-market-value price. They shunned our
messages saying we had potentially interested buyers and wanted no
commission. The buyer did not come from seeking community, and eventually
sold again and moved elsewhere.

Lynn Nadeau, RoseWind Cohousing
Port Townsend Washington (Victorian seaport, music, art, nature)


Message: 5
Date: Sat, 04 May 2002 12:58:42 -0600
From: Mac & Sandy Thomson <ganesh [at] rmi.net>
To: Coho-L-postings <cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org>
Subject: [C-L]_Re: Waiting Lists
Reply-To: cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org

Just to clarify, Heartwood is an established neighborhood so we're working
on defining a waiting list for future buyers replacing one of our current
residents.  Our goal is to have a strong waiting list so that when someone's
ready to sell, they'll have an easy time finding a buyer willing to give
them a good price and the community will get a good new member.


Mac Thomson

Heartwood Cohousing

"Rebellion is a quick and easy way of standing out, as opposed to working
hard at becoming something special."

    - Laura Schlessinger


Elizabeth Stevenson wrote:

> I'm just replying to just this question because I live in a built community
> and was not a member if and when we ever had a waiting list.


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